ATTORNEY GENERAL SEARCH

Now that former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has resigned, following allegations accusing him of sexual assault, who will take the reins of the office next? We’re looking at potential candidates.

Aired on May 17, 2018.

TRANSCRIPT

> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO METROFOCUS I'M JACK FORD.

ON MAY 7th NORTH AMERICA ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC SCHNEIDERMAN RESIGNED IN ZBRAS, AWASH IN SCANDAL.

FOUR WOMEN CAME FORWARD AND DETAILED THEIR EXPERIENCES OF BEING PHYSICALLY ABUSED BY SCHNEIDERMAN.

GOVERNOR CUOMO APPOINTED A SPECIAL PROSECUTOR TO INVESTIGATE THE ALLEGATIONS.

BUT NOW THE BIG QUESTION THROUGHOUT THE STATE IS WHO WILL BE THE NEXT NEXT ATTORNEY GENERAL?

HERE WITH A LOOK AT CANDIDATES AND EVERYTHING THAT CIRCULATES AROUND THIS IS DIGITAL REPORTER FOR CITY AND STATE, GRACE SEEGER.

NICE TO HAVE YOU HERE WITH US.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

THE FIRST QUESTION I WANT TO ASK AND PEOPLE MIGHT THINK IT'S SILLY UNTIL THEY FIND OUT THE ANSWER.

YOU DID AN INTERESTING PIECE ON WHAT QUALIFICATIONS A PERSON NEEDS TO HAVE CONSTITUTIONALLY TO BECOME THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK.

RIGHT.

WHAT ARE THEY.

WELL IN THE STATE OF NEW YORK TO BE ATTORNEY GENERAL YOU NEED TO BE 30 YEARS OLD OR OVER.

A UNITED STATES CITIZEN, AND HAVE LIVED IN NEW YORK FOR THE PAST FIVE YEARS.

SO.

THAT'S IT.

THAT'S PRETTY MUCH IT.

NOTHING MORE.

YOU DON'T -- YOU'RE NOT LEGALLY REQUIRED TO BE A LAWYER, CORRECT.

CORRECT.

THERE WAS A CASE IN 1995 THAT IN THE COURT OF APPEALS THAT RULED THAT TO BE A DISTRICT ATTORNEY YOU HAD TO BE A LAWYER.

BUT THUS FAR THEY HAVEN'T MADE A SIMILAR RULING ABOUT ATTORNEY GENERAL.

THAT COULD CHANGE IF WE HAD AN ATTORNEY GENERAL WHO WASN'T AN ATTORNEY.

THE COURT OF APPEALS COULD RULE AGAIN.

BUT RIGHT NOW ALL YOU NEED, 30, NEW YORK CITIZENS AND NEW YORK CITIZENS LAST FIVE YEARS.

THEY HAVE TO GET ELECTED.

YOU MAKE THAT POINT IN THE PIECE.

THE FACT THAT THIS IS AN ELECTED POSITION IS THE PUBLIC GETS A CHANCE TO SAY OKAY WHETHER OKAY YOU HAVE THOSE CRITERIA BUT YOU DON'T GIVE US A PORTFOLIOS THAT MAKES US COMFORTABLE WITH YOU AS THE ATTORNEY GENERAL.

SO IT'S THE PUBLIC THAT MAKES THAT DECISION, AND YOU WANT TO GET ON THE EXACTIC PRIMARY FOR ATTORNEY GENERAL.

IT'S PROBABLY PRETTY DIFFICULT FOR YOU.

WHY DO YOU THINK THERE IS SUCH ENORMOUS INTEREST -- I THINK THAT'S A FAIR WAY TO CATEGORYIZE IT -- SUCH INTEREST IN SO MANY PEOPLE WHO WANT TO BECOME THE ATTORNEY GENERAL?

RIGHT.

SO I THINK IT'S BECAUSE IN IS A MAJOR STATEWIDE POSITION.

IT'S ALSO BEEN A LAUNCHING PAD FOR PEOPLE TO GO TO THE GOVERNORSHIP.

SO YOU SAW WITH ELLIOTT SPITZER, WITH ANDREW CUOMO, ATTORNEY GENERAL AND THEN GOVERNOR.

AND ALSO BECAUSE THIS SEAT WAS NOT EXPECTED TO BE OPEN.

WE THOUGHT WE WOULD HAVE ERIC SCHNEIDERMAN RUNNING AGAIN ABAND THAT WOULD BE A RELATIVELY SLEEPY YEAR FOR MOST STATEWIDE RACES BUT THIS THREW A WRENCH INTO THE MIX.

LET'S SEE A LIST OF NAMES THAT ARE MANY FLOATED BY OTHERS OR BY THEMSELVES AS BEING INTERESTED IN THE SPOT.

THE BIG ONE IS LETITIA JAMES, THE NEW YORK CITY PUBLIC ADD VEKT.

SHE DECLARED YESTERDAY SHE WAS RUNNING TO ATTORNEY GENERAL.

HER CAMPAIGN SLOWING ISN'T THAT SHE IS THE PEOPLE'S LAWYER.

MANY PEOPLE THOUGHT SHE WAS A BIG CONTENDER FOR THE 2021 MAYORAL RACE.

BUT IT SEEMS SHE IS LEAP FROGGING BEFORE THAT, GOING STRAIGHT TO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL POSITION.

THAT WOULD BE A BIG DEAL BECAUSE SHE WAS THE FIRST CITYWIDE BLACK WOMAN TO BE ELECTED.

AND SHE COULD BECOME THE FIRST STATEWIDE BLACK WOMAN ELECTED.

NOW SHE HAS TAKEN AN INTERESTING APPROACH TO THIS, ALL RIGHT.

UM-HUM.

THE WAY IT WORKS NOW IS THE LEGISLATURE APPOINTS A PERSON UNTIL THERE IS AN ELECTION, CORRECT.

RIGHT.

RIGHT.

AND RIGHT NOW WE'LL TALK ABOUT IT IN A SECOND -- WE HAVE SOMEBODY HOLDING DOWN THE SEAT, IF YOU WILL.

UM-HUM.

BUT THE PUBLIC ADVOCATE ESSENTIALLY SAID DON'T APPOINT ME HERE.

UM-HUM.

I'LL TAKE MY CHANCES IN THE ELECTION.

WHY DO YOU THINK?

WELL, THE WORD THAT KEEPS COMING UP IS SLIMY.

SHE DIDN'T WANT TO SEE SLIMY.

DIDN'T WANT TO SEEM LIKE SHE IS WORKING BEHIND THE BACKS OF VOTERS TO BE APPOINTED BY THE LEGISLATURE.

THERE WAS ALSO RUMORS THAT ASSEMBLY PECK SPEAKER WANTED TO PUT HER IN THAT POSITION TO CLEAR UP THE 2021 MAYORAL RACE FOR A PROTEGE OF HIS, BRONX BUROUGH PRESIDENT REUBEN DIAZ, JR.

IT COULD HAVE LOOKED LIKE BEHIND THE SCENES ALBANY MACHINATIONS.

AND IF YOU WANT TO BE RE-ELECTED ON THE POSITION OF GOOD GOVERNMENT AND ANTI-CORRUPTION IT'S PROBABLY NOT A GREAT IDEA TO GET YOUR IN AS BEING APPOINTED BY THE STATE LEGISLATURE.

TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE PERSON HOLDING DOWN THE SEAT RIGHT NOW.

UM-HUM.

BARBARA UNDERWOOD WITH.

SHE WAS THE SOLICITOR OF NEW YORK STATE AND NOW THE ATTORNEY GENERAL.

SHE HAS A STELLAR RESUME AND WE DON'T ABOUT HOW QUACKS DON'T MATTER BUT HER QUACKS ARE TOP NOTCH.

SHE WAS THE FIRST WOMAN SOLICITOR GENERAL IN THE UNITED STATES.

SHE CLERKED FOR THURGOOD MARSHALL WSH FIRST IN HER CLASS IN GEORGETOWN LAW AND HOLDING DOWN THE FORT NOW.

SHE IS MAKING THE ARGUMENT SHE SHOULD STAY IN UNTIL THE END OF THE YEAR BECAUSE SHE WANTS STABILITY IN THE OFFICE.

WHAT ABOUT THE IDEA OF HER RUNNING FOR THE POST FULL-TIME.

SHE SAYS SHE IS NOT INTERESTED IN IT.

WE'LL SEE, SEVEN MONTHS, THAT'S A LONG TIME MAYBE SHE WILL GET A TASTE FOR IT.

BUT THE WAY I SEE IT I THINK SHE IS MORE OF A PERSON WHO JUST WANTS TO HOLD DOWN THE FORT, MAKE SURE EVERYTHING IS WORKING CORRECTLY, MAKE SURE ALL THE LAWSUITS CONTINUE IN ORDER AND THEN LEN LET SOMEONE O SOMEONE ELSE TAKE THE RAINS.

I'VE SEEN EDITORIAL PIECES WHERE FOLKS ARE SAYING IT'S TIME TO HAVE A WILLIAM IN THAT OFFICE FOR A LOT OF REASONS.

ARE YOU SEEING THAT ARGUE BEING MADE ALSO?

I THINK IT DEFINITELY IS BEING MADE, ESPECIALLY BECAUSE ERIC SCHNEIDERMAN'S DOWNFALL WAS TO TIED TO HIS FAILURE AS A LEADER OF THE ME TOO MOVEMENT.

AND THERE IS THE CULTURAL BACKLASH TO THAT.

SO TISH JAMES IS ONE OF THE PEOPLE BEING TOSSED AROUND.

THERE IS ALSO ZEPHRY AND WHO RAN AGAINST CUOMO IN THE 2014 PRIMARY AND IN CONGRESS IN 2016.

A AND SHE ASKED TO BE CONSIDERED ON THE WORKING FAMILIES PARTY LINE.

YOU MENTIONED THE ANTICIPATION WAS IT WAS GOING TO BE A SLEEPY ELECTION BEFORE WE HAD SEISMIC CHANGE.

I THINK THE REALITY IS THIS WILL BE ANYTHING BUT SLEEPY COMING UP.

OH, YES.

HOPEFUL WE WILL GET YOU BACK IN AND TALK MORE ABOUT THIS.

BUT THANKS FOR GIVING US YOUR INSIGHT.

THANKS SO MUCH, JACK.

YOU BE WELL.

THANKS.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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